Letters to friends/1.10

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Translated by Evelyn Shuckburgh

To L. Valerius in Cilicia, from Rome, 54 BC

M. Cicero wishes health to L. Valerius, learned in the law. For why I should not pay you this compliment I don't know, especially considering that in these times one may employ impudence to supply the place of learning. I have written to our friend Lentulus, thanking him earnestly in your name. But I could wish that you would now cease using my letter of introduction and at last come back to us, and prefer a city where you are of some account, to a place where you appear to be the only man of legal learning. However, those who come from where you are either say you are proud because you give no "opinions," or insulting because you give bad ones.[1] But I am now longing to crack a joke with you face to face. So come as soon as ever you can, and don't go and visit your native Apulia, that we may have the joy of welcoming your safe return. For if you go there, like another Ulysses, you will not recognize any of your friends.[2]


  1. Cicero perhaps means that Valerius's "opinions" are too right to suit such a set as are to be found in the province. Valerius will not mind people there thinking him a bad lawyer. "At Rome you are considered a good lawyer, in Cilicia they don't think so!"
  2. Cognosces tuorum neminem. Others read cognoscere tuorum nemini, "you will not be recognized by any of your friends," which agrees better with Homer's account of the return of Ulysses. But perhaps the exact comparison is not to be pressed.